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Garland Pushes Back On GOP Accusations Of Politicizing DOJ; Polls: Trump Has Sizable Lead Over GOP Rivals In NH; Trial Of Two Police Officers Begins In Death Of Elijah McClain; Should Member Of Congress Have A Dress Code?; Elon Musk's Brain Implant Startup Set To Begin Human Trials. Aired 11p-12a ET
Aired September 20, 2023 - 23:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LAURA COATES, CNN HOST: Merrick Garland pushing back on GOP accusations of politicizing the DOJ, insisting he is not the president's lawyer nor Congress's prosecutor. So, was all this a preview of what's to come next week when House Republicans are going to launch their impeachment inquiry of President Biden?
Plus, two Colorado cops going on trial today in the death of this young man, 23-year-old Elijah McClain, who was just walking home from a convenient store with iced tea when he was confronted by police. Three days later, he was dead. Tonight, I'll talk to a mother who lost her son at the hands of police, RowVaughn Wells, the mother of Tyre Nichols.
And with all of these, all of the crucial issues we face as a nation, what is the Senate battling over? A dress code. Is a suit and tie a requirement to govern the United States of America? I've got some thoughts about all of that, and I'm going to share them with you tonight.
We've got a lot going on tonight from Cassidy Hutchinson's accusation against Rudy Giuliani to Giuliani itself to Merrick Garland's pushback against GOP attacks on the DOJ.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MERRICK GARLAND, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: We apply the same laws to everyone. There is not one set of laws for the powerful and another for the powerless, one for the rich and another for the poor, one for Democrats and another for Republicans.
Our job is not to do what is politically convenient. Our job is not to take orders from the president, from Congress, or from anyone else about who or what to criminally investigate.
I am not the president's lawyer. I will add, I am not Congress's prosecutor.
(END VIDEO CLIP) COATES: I want to bring in Jay Michaelson. He clerked for Merrick Garland in his second year on the D.C. Circuit bench back in 1998. Also, Mimi Rocha, Westchester County district attorney and former AUSA in the Southern District of New York as well. I'm glad to have both of you here.
We were all watching what took place on the Hill. I can't say that I'm surprised that he had a bit of a hostile crowd, as you well know. He likely anticipated it when he stepped on Capitol Hill today. He was defiant though, right? He was talking about not being the president's lawyer, not being Congress's lawyer.
It's difficult, though, because he is facing criticism after criticism after criticism, weaponization, let alone the pace of his prosecutions. What was your take on his approach today to really be defiant in the way he addressed Congress?
MIMI ROCAH, WESTCHESTER COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY: I thought it was actually the perfect tone. I mean, you know, for Merrick Garland to be defiant is the rest of us, I think, calm. Um, but he is -- he is an institutionalist. He is, like, to the core. And so, I think it backfires to try and make Merrick Garland, of all people, looked political. It just fails.
He is an apolitical person who will defend the core mission of the Department of Justice and the career prosecutors. That's who he's defending. He's not talking about political appointees like U.S. attorneys. He's saying, sure, go ask David Weiss, the special prosecutor, Trump-appointed U.S. attorney, go ask him anything you want, but my career prosecutors and the agents, leave them out of this, they are just doing their job. And I -- he is so sincere in that, that I think trying to paint him as political really fails.
And the one other thing I wanted to point out is, you know, they kept saying, well, DOJ has this really low approval rating. You know, that's your fault. No, that was the goal of Donald Trump starting back in 2016 or even before that. His goal has been, and these people are helping him carry it out, to degrade the reputation and the dignity and the legitimacy of the Department of Justice. They have tried to do that, and they've been somewhat successful.
COATES: I mean, on that point, Jay, obviously, if someone will look at the org chart, right, of the executive branch, it is counterintuitive that somebody hoping to be the president of the United States either before or once again would want to take away the authority of those who are going to serve under him. Obviously, the executive branch enforcing the laws in the country, DOJ fits in that. But there's a lot of special counsels here.
JAY MICHAELSON, RABBI, WRITER FOR ROLLING STONE: Hmm.
COATES: And the reason I point that out is because one of the big issues on the Hill today, in particular, was that he didn't really have a direct, immediate answer as to why he elevated David Weiss, who you just mentioned, who obviously oversees the Hunter Biden probe and now has resulted in three federal indictments of gun charges, didn't have really an explanation as to why then.
And it got me thinking, with all the different special counsels they have, is he walking into a kind of trap, as you've laid out, about undermining the power of the DOJ when he delegates in this way?
MICHAELSON: Well, these members of Congress were just doing it for the gram, right? This was like a fundraising exercise by these members of the Judiciary Committee. They were showboating. They're kind of clout chasers. You know, trying to get a little piece of the action so they can go back to their constituents and say that they're fighting Merrick Garland and the Justice Department. So, there was no choice that I think he could have made that would have been safe, right?
Had he not appointed David Weiss in this case, they would say, why did you throw out Republican, you know, Donald Trump-appointed David Weiss to bring in this other person? You know, instead he went this way, and so they're attacking him this way.
There is -- and I think you could tell, you know, in the way that Attorney General Garland conducted himself that he knew what was going on, that this was a political show, in a sense. And I think I agree, and I think in a way, I think there was a happiness and opportunity to state his case, that one of his main objectives as attorney general was to restore respect and independence to the Department of Justice, which had been so sullied under Trump.
COATES: You know, speaking of what took place and part of the impetus for all the conversations around Merrick Garland and, of course, January 6th and the pace of prosecutions has been what happened on January 6th and before. While we've been looking at those issues, there were some bombshell revelations today. There's an upcoming, a forthcoming book from Cassidy Hutchinson. She's accusing Rudy Giuliani of groping her.
I want to just read a section for a moment of what she had to say. She said, the corners of his mouth split into a Cheshire cat smile. Waving a sort of stack of documents, he moves towards me, like a wolf closing in on its prey. "We have the evidence. It's all here. We're going to pull this off." Rudy wraps one arm around my body, closing the space that was separating us.
I feel his stack of documents press into the small of my back. I lower my eyes and watch his free hand reach from the hem of my blazer. "By the way," he says, fingering the fabric, "I'm loving this leather jacket on you." His hands slip under my blazer, then my skirt.
Of course, she was 24 years old at the time that she says this happened. The power dynamic obvious. The accusations repulsive. What's your thought?
ROCAH: Look, Giuliani, I think, already has said, why is she coming out with this now? Why didn't she come out with it before, right? That's the classic --
COATES: The immediate retort.
ROCAH: Yes, that's the playbook, right? Well, if it happened, she would have said it back then. No, she wouldn't have because of the power dynamic you're talking about, right? Of course, she couldn't say it then. She was deeply entrenched in that administration at that time. She didn't have the freedom to say it. She didn't even have the freedom to tell the truth before the committee until she got a new lawyer, so let alone come out with something like this.
And look, he can deny them and, you know, my guess is those might end up being litigated somewhere, maybe just in the public arena, maybe in court, but the fact is that men who abuse power in one way usually abuse it in more than one way, and Giuliani has shown himself to be, um, very good at abusing his law license and abusing his power. And so, you know, I credit it.
COATES: You know, when you think about bridging that gap and, obviously, his advisors have called this a disgusting lie, they're asking, of course, why we're only learning about this right now, as you mentioned, the more immediate visceral retort, but in thinking about that, he says, it's fair to ask Cassidy Hutchinson why she is just now coming out with these allegations from two and a half years ago, as part of the marketing campaign for her upcoming book release.
Now, when you look at this, Jay, and Mimi makes this point about -- she said she assigns credit, you know, the lawyerly way of saying, obviously, I believe the person should be assigned some level of truthfulness to what they're saying, but there is this idea of what impact this might have on what she described. How you would relate this to other aspects under which Rudy Giuliani finds himself under a microscope here?
MICHAELSON: Yeah, you know, it's really tragic. I mean, I'm kind of a lifelong New Yorker. I remember I never really agreed with Rudy Giuliani's policies. I think he kind of gets a pass for some of what he did when he was mayor. But he did have a moment of moral leadership in this country. And to see how far he has fallen, you know, with these allegations just being the latest last straw, I wonder if it has an impact because there's just so much, you know, there's so much that he did.
You know, particularly if you look at the Georgia indictments, you know, the whole -- all of these pressure tactics, and there's so much that I feel like a lot of folks are really on overwhelm at this point, and it's really difficult to try to really put it all into some kind of a perspective, which is interesting.
You know, just think about the timing. You know, here, in this case, this is like the classic thing that people say. It's almost like a cliche of what abusers say, like, oh, well, why did she wait so long? That's literally like central casting line if you're a sexual predator, is to then come out with that kind of accusation.
You know, the timing accusation was also kind of relevant in the Garland hearings. You know, if this was about weaponizing the Department of Justice for political gain, he should have, you know, indicted Trump three years ago, right? Why two years ago? Why are we having this conversation now, right? It was because there was this methodical, careful investigation.
And I know there are many folks on the left who are saying, you know, indict Trump now, right, in 2021. But that isn't what happened. You know, things take time. And exactly, there are power relationships that are there. And if you're being diligent of whether it's in the case, you know, in this case with Giuliani or whether it's in the indictments against Trump, to sort of artificially say, well, things have to happen on my schedule, that's just not how the law and careful jurisprudence works.
COATES: You know, the allegations remain such that, and they don't appear to immediately have an impact on any of these indictments. But, you know, they have said that they believe it's a disgusting lie. But you can't help but question why only some people are identified and question about credibility after all this time.
You've had so many people come out with books. Right? Since January 6th and beyond, let alone the administration of Trump and Pence and beyond, you don't hear the same criticism as to the why now? Why are you coming about this now? There is a level of credibility assigned and undermined in other directions.
Both of you, thank you for joining me tonight. Really important to hear your insight on all this.
I want to bring in Andrew McCabe, former FBI deputy director and CNN senior law enforcement analyst. Andrew, I'm so glad to see you, although you're distant from me today. I usually have you by my side. But nice to see you from a distance for a moment.
Listen, you know, you're used to being quite tight-lipped about investigations by necessity, obviously, from the FBI. You know, Attorney General Merrick Garland was trying to speak on many of these investigations, but he obviously did not -- was not forthcoming on everything, either by the fact that he'd already delegated it and wanted it to be known that he was not in control of a variety of different investigations under special counsel or perhaps he knew the power of a stray comment.
From your experience from the FBI in leading investigations, help us understand what the gravitas is of the attorney general or any government attorney speaking about active investigations.
ANDREW MCCABE, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: So, Laura, it's great to be here with you tonight as well. So, I can tell you from my experience and having the -- or unfortunate experience of having had to testify in front of this committee and many others during my time in the FBI, these are moments that leaders in the Justice Department and in the FBI absolutely dread because you have essentially no margin for error.
By definition, the work that you're doing is sensitive, it's criminal investigations that we do not discuss publicly, we don't discuss with Congress while those investigations are ongoing. So, you know, walking in the door, you don't have any satisfying answers that you can give these members.
So, literally the bar for winning in this situation is survival. You just want to endure the beating and be able to get up on your own, under your own power, and leave at the end of it still having your job and able to get back to your office.
So, you know, on that very low standard, I think the attorney general did a phenomenal job today. He had very little that he could share. He held the line in a consistent and reasonable way.
I thought the Republicans really revealed themselves to be kind of a one-note chorus. You know, they all spent the entire day asking essentially the same three questions, and they all got the same answer, which was, I'm sure, wildly unsatisfying for them.
COATES: Well, you know, we make a lot of discussions about how you had the right to remain silent and anything you say can be used against you. We often look at Donald Trump and question whether he should be interviewed by various outlets and what his attorneys must be thinking and how they let him go in front of the cameras, let alone in front of somebody.
We don't give as much thought to what's happening when prosecutors do so, when they are then in a position to possibly tar and feather people in the public square, and then be told that they have to and they ought to abide by due process rules. They can't get both done. But it's interesting when you think about this dynamic here.
When you look at this from the perspective of what could go wrong, how does it undermine what the FBI or investigators could do if someone were to publicize or make a lot of comments about the investigations?
MCCABE: It goes to the very fundamental concept of pre-judging, and that is something that we avoid doing in our system of justice, right? Everyone is innocent until they are proven guilty in a court of law.
It would be fundamentally unfair for anyone on the prosecutorial side, for the agents, for the prosecutors or the attorney general himself, to start sharing information in the open that has been derived from a sensitive criminal investigation, one in which you are using, you know, grand jury information that's protected by the 6E rules, you have information that's protected by the Privacy Act.
To share that information in open forum would unreasonably cast doubt and judgment upon the people that you're investigating. You could prejudice the jury pool. You could simply drag people through that awfully humiliating and embarrassing experience without ever having completed even so much as an indictment, much less a conviction.
So, in order to observe the rights of the people who you are investigating and who you may or maybe you are prosecuting, you have got to keep your mouth closed about the information you know from that investigation.
COATES: I feel like you just defined what would be fairness in a system, of course, Andrew, but it's very clear that he was in a position of damned if he did, damned if he didn't. Nothing he said was going to be satisfactory.
Perhaps that's by design, but I think this enlightened people as well. I don't know about you. When I was prosecuting, on the bottom of our indictments was signed the U.S. attorney, the attorney general in many of his instances, they did not have a direct impact on the day-to-day prosecutions or the day-to-day investigation. So maybe he should have added, I'm also not the dictator of what the FBI ought to be doing.
Andrew McCabe, thank you for joining us tonight.
MCCABE: Thanks, Laura.
COATES: Up next, everyone, the brand-new CNN poll in New Hampshire and what it tells us about what to expect at the GOP debate next week. It's a week from today.
COATES: Tonight, a new CNN poll shedding some light on the race for the GOP nomination. Now, Donald Trump, he's holding on to a pretty wide lead in the early voting state of New Hampshire. But with another GOP debate next Wednesday, the question really is, how much room is there for any of the other people on this screen to make up ground?
Joining me now, CNN political analyst Coleman Hughes, CNN senior political analyst John Avlon, and CNN senior data reporter Harry Enten. Glad to have all of you here with me.
JOHN AVLON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Hello.
COATES: It's so nice to see all of you.
AVLON: I know. How about that?
COATES: Shalom. We've got a little purple background. I matched everything. It's wonderful. Let me ask you, Harry, to begin with, because we see these poll numbers, they're pretty significant, and Trump has -- well, he's got a commanding lead in New Hampshire.
HARRY ENTEN, CNN SENIOR DATA REPORTER: What a surprise.
COATES: It seems to be shocking, is it not? And yet, these numbers have a little bit more under the hood.
ENTEN: Yeah. There are a few things I'll point out. First off, you know, the fact is that Rod DeSantis is dropping like a rock in the Granite State. Hey, look at that. AVLON: Oh, hey.
ENTEN: There you go. You know --
COATES: Did you all catch that? Because he practiced all night. Okay, go ahead.
ENTEN: There you go. You know, he was north of 40% at the beginning of the year. Now, of course, he's basically down at 10%. And I think that gives you an understanding that if you look at the polling right now and you look at, okay, I'm certainly supporting your candidate or I might change my mind, and right now, what we see in the polls is that the Trump voters are very much locked in. The vast majority of them say, you know, I'm solid, I'm certain in my support for Donald Trump and the Granite State.
If you look at the supporters of all the other candidates, what you see is very few of them are locked in at this particular point. And that is why I think this race is wide open, at least to the extent of who might be the alternative to Trump.
We saw in this poll Ramaswamy going up. We saw in this poll Haley going up. We saw in this poll Christie going up versus the last UNH poll that we had. I don't think we're done churning through this at this particular point, and that's something I'm looking forward to ahead of this next debate.
COATES: Well, what do you attribute this to? I mean, obviously, Ron DeSantis -- I don't -- did he just peak in sort of the political high school when it comes to before he talked about going and becoming a candidate? What is this attributed to?
AVLON: Well, look, if you dig into the numbers, I mean, part of it, he is plummeted among moderate voters. You know, he went from having around 23% support to around 10. And so, this is a real problem. He has really pursued a play-to-the-base culture war slash and burn strategy, and that has not helped him in the course of this campaign. He has failed to convert as a candidate who can be anything resembling a happy warrior.
As Harry just mentioned, though, the fact that, you know, Haley, Ramaswamy, and Christie have doubled their numbers in New Hampshire, interesting, indicates fluidity. Also, Donald Trump's water level in New Hampshire is lower than you'd expect. There's 60% of voters in New Hampshire that are looking for an alternative. That's interesting.
Also, open primaries in a state where a plurality of voters are registered independents. So that creates a lot of room for different dynamics.
COATES: I mean, Coleman, independents are like the coveted group, right? That's who everyone wants to figure out and pick their brain and try to use a crystal ball to see what they're going to do.
COLEMAN HUGHES, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Right. COATES: The water level is lower. Trump still has a commanding lead, though. When you look at, and I can't help but go back to President Biden's don't judge me against the almighty, judge me by my alternative, right? People seem to be looking for alternatives.
HUGHES: Oh, definitely. People are looking for alternatives. And as Harry said, they're very open to changing their opinion at this stage. So, you just mentioned that among moderates is where DeSantis has been losing. That's precisely where Nikki Haley has been gaining. You have to imagine there were people that liked DeSantis a few months ago that have switch ships to Haley, and that's a good sign for her.
Another thing that came out of this poll was that the major rift in the Republican Party right now, policy-wise, is Ukraine. The people that like Vivek and Trump, they want to end funding for the war in Ukraine. The people that like Christie, to an extent, DeSantis and Nikki Haley, they are on the other side of that issue. That's the major fault light -- fault line right now. So, I think we should expect that flashpoint to come up again in the next debates.
COATES: And precisely why, of course, Zelenskyy was at the U.N. General Assembly giving a speech, obviously to roaring applause, by the way, in terms of the sustained support. You do have almost universal condemnation of what Russia has done in Ukraine and the invasion and beyond, but the support, the way in which it's going to manifest as a big part of the conversation, you know, it's interesting.
A lot of these different candidates, we wouldn't have had the same conversation before that first primary debate.
I mean, Vivek Ramaswamy was in the center. Nikki Haley came out pretty strong on the very issues of foreign policy. Remember when Vivek said he wanted to return Ukraine to Russia? I'm paraphrasing and his foreign policy chops were on full display or maybe the lack thereof. What do you anticipate is going to happen from this next debate? Are these bumps going to continue?
ENTEN: Not necessarily. I mean, look, we've seen Republican primaries pass where we've seen candidates move up and then move down. You know, in 2012, for instance, Mitt Romney seemed to be always level and was fighting who was going to be the alternative to Mitt Romney.
You know, I'm somewhat reminded when I look at these poll numbers of a different primary though on the Republican side, New Hampshire, and that's the 2000 Republican primary. Why is that? Because if you look back at the polls back then, George W. Bush held a very similar lead to the one that Donald Trump now holds.
He was, at the time, George W. Bush, I believe, was at 45%, in second place was Liddy Dole at 15%, and a guy by the name of John McCain, a pretty hawkish guy, you know, we're talking about foreign policy here, was at 12%. Guess what happened in the upcoming four months when the voting actually took place? John McCain came all the way back from 12% and won that primary with 49% of the vote, crushing George W. Bush, who came in at just 30%.
So, as we're talking here, this is not just something in the hypothetical, theoretical that this race isn't over. We have seen in New Hampshire where a lot of New Hampshire Republicans and those independents who have owned that state might say, you know what, hold on a second, we want to take another look at these candidates and we don't want this primary just to be a runaway for the leading candidate.
COATES: I can literally hear you champing at the bit.
AVLON: Look, that's important to understand also because Democrats aren't going to have a competitive primary presumably. Independent voters may feel even more compelled to participate because this is really one of the chances to put the dent in Donald Trump's momentum.
And remember, if South Carolina is next, Nikki Haley has a good debate next week. That could really solidify her status as the preeminent alternative to Donald Trump, or if someone else steps up. But she clearly benefited from the debate performance last time around. So, a lot of expectation. And her growth, don't sneeze at it. Same thing with Chris Christie in the state.
COATES: Coleman, John, Harry, thank you all. Love to hear your insight as always.
This next story has touched me in a lot of ways and for so many people remembering what happened to young Elijah McClain. He died in 2019 after police put him in a neck hold and paramedics injected him with ketamine, even though he wasn't even armed. Now, there's a high- profile trial for officers in Elijah McClain's death, and it's underway, and it's renewing a lot of conversations about police reform nationwide.
COATES: The trial of two Aurora, Colorado police officers over the 2019 death of Elijah McClain beginning today. Randy Roedema and Jason Rosenblatt face charges of reckless manslaughter, criminally negligent homicide, and assault causing serious bodily injury. They have both pleaded not guilty.
Now, the case stems from the arrest of Elijah McClain seen here on August 24th, 2019, after officers responded to a call about a suspicious person wearing a ski mask. He was just walking down the street. Body camera footage shows police wrestled the 23-year-old McClain to the ground and placed him in a carotid hold. Paramedics later injected him with the sedative ketamine. He suffered a heart attack on the way to the hospital and was pronounced dead three days later.
As that trial was getting underway, Mothers of the Movement were on Capitol Hill, meeting with leadership from the Congressional Black Caucus to discuss a path forward for police reform. My next guests were among those at the meeting.
Joining me now, Democratic Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas, civil rights attorney Ben Crump, and Tyre Nichols's mother, RowVaughn Wells. Thank you all so much for being here and the continued work that you are invested in to ensure that this does not happen again.
RowVaughn, if I could begin with you, last week, the five officers involved in the death of your son were indicted on federal charges. And today, you were on Capitol Hill talking to leaders of the Congressional Black Caucus about police reform. Ma'am, what do you want to have changed?
ROWVAUGHN WELLS, MOTHER OF TYRE NICHOLS: Well, first, what I'd like to have changed is them to pass the George Floyd bill. Um, I feel like that bill would save a lot of kids today. I know that it would have probably saved my child because Tyre was just on his way home and those police officers pulled him over and they murdered him, basically.
So, what I would like to see, I would like to see that bill passed, and I would like for those Republicans to get off their butts and pass it because I want them to understand that we as mothers, we're getting tired of our children being killed by those that are here to protect and serve.
My son was on his way home, and they pulled him over, and he never made it home. So, it's a lot of that going on these days. And I just would like to ask those Republicans to stand in our shoes and see how we feel by us losing our children to those that are here to protect and serve.
COATES: Ma'am, I want to tell you as a mother of a little boy, I thank you personally for the work that you are doing because in so many ways, we all are hoping not to be inevitably Mothers of the Movement.
COATES: So, thank you so much.
WELLS: You're welcome. Thank you.
COATES: Congresswoman, you have been intimately involved in the George Floyd Act of 2021. It actually passed in the House, installed in the Senate.
From the lawmaker's perspective, knowing what it takes to get this legislation passed, and there might not be the appetite, as you well know, on a bipartisan basis, how do you get it done?
REP. SHEILA JACKSON LEE (D-TX): Well, Laura, first of all, thank you for having me. I'm honored to be here with Mrs. Vaughn Wells and the courageous women that we met today, certainly Attorney Ben Crump, who has never stopped working.
Here's the question: Would any American today want to be in the shoes of Mrs. Vaughan Wells or any of the mothers that I met today? This is an American issue. Public safety, which is now in the minds of so many Americans concerned about their children and gun violence, may be a little different than four years ago that George Floyd's bill and that family was so hurt and harmed.
But public safety is still a national issue. It is an issue of patriotism. And none of those mothers in that room when we were discussing this issue with them said anything more than they wanted their child to come home to them, and we all said we want police officers to go home to their family.
So, the key is for Republicans to walk in the footsteps of those who simply want to be treated as an American with fairness and justice. This bill was passed twice. It was a bipartisan bill.
JACKSON LEE: And it is a bill that gives back to police and police departments. How does it do that? It improves on police-community relationships, it provides professional development training, it deals with racial bias training, and it helps police work more effectively with the community. There was no reason, if you look at the facts, of the tragedy of the Tyre case --
JACKSON LEE: -- of young Tyre, that he could not have been said, go on your way. don't do this the next time --
JACKSON LEE: -- or we understand what you're saying, but we're not going to hold you this time. That's all that was needed. So, my belief is this can be done with a republican majority.
JACKSON LEE: They just have to understand her message, her pain, and they have to understand what they want any other mother, including those in their family or father, to be able to experience the pain of losing a child --
JACKSON LEE: -- without justification.
COATES: I want to bring in Ben to this. Mr. Crump, the work that you're doing, there's obviously the legislative path, there's the litigious path, there's the pressure that you have been applying to ensure that there can be justice on the legal side of this issue, a very powerful vehicle for deterrence as well as punishment. From the litigious and the litigation side of it, what do you think needs to continue to be done? BEN CRUMP, CIVIL RIGHTS ATTORNEY: Well, Laura Coates, as a lawyer, you know we have the Seventh Amendment right of the Constitution that allows these families when they can't get justice in the criminal court to bring a civil action. We've been making a lot of progress raising the value of black life and other marginalized citizens.
But the real question is simply this, Laura Coates. You talked about poor Elijah McClain, his death on video, Tyre Nichols's death on video, Ronald Greene and George Floyd's death on video. How many more videos do we have to show you, America, before we finally pass substantive police reform on the federal level?
COATES: There is so much work to be done. And, you know, I have to think about speaking truth to power, but also speaking about power.
JACKSON LEE: Laura, may I add something?
COATES: Yes, congresswoman, really quick. We need to make sure we --
JACKSON LEE: Let me make it very clear. The original basis of the George Floyd bill in the midst of the tragedy was based on the former Republican president's executive order. We now have an executive order by President Biden having the same elements of ending chokeholds and protecting people from excessive force. Why would any American object? Why would any city object to having a police force?
We have police force in Houston that understands those elements. Why would anyone reject having that kind of police force with federal law that would govern everyone and save lives and would have saved the lives of Tyre Nichols and those courageous women that we met today and those that Mr. Crump represents? No one should be against that.
COATES: Ben Crump, Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, and perhaps most of all, Ms. RowVaughn Wells, thank you so much. I'm sorry to have met you this way. Thank you for the work that you continue to do.
WELLS: Thank you, Laura.
CRUMP: Thank you, Laura.
COATES: We'll be right back.
COATES: Well, there's a battle brewing in Congress and it might be a different one from the fight about the federal budget. It's about who's wearing what on the Senate floor. Nearly every GOP senator signing a letter today urging Majority Leader Chuck Schumer to continue enforcing the chamber's more formal unwritten dress code. That after he asked the Senate's sergeant-in-arms to relax the dress code, a move seen as a nod to Senator John Fetterman's preference for wearing shorts and a hoodie.
Here to discuss, Rachel Janfaza. She's a journalist covering youth political culture and is the founder of "The Up and Up." Also, here, Deirdre Clemente. She's a fashion and culture historian at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Glad to see you both.
Let me begin with you, Deirdre, here because look, many Republican senators are against this decision. They argue that the dress code, if it's relaxed, disrespects the institution they serve. Doesn't actually make an impact. Is it disrespectful or are we talking about a sign of the times?
DEIRDRE CLEMENTE, PROFESSOR OF HISTORY, UNIVERSITY OF NEVADA: listen, you know, dress codes are -- have long been criticized as a way of control and a way of, you know, keeping people on the straight and narrow to adhere to sartorial standards. But the American wardrobe is dynamic. And these -- the fuss over these changes really represents that this is cultural change in the making, and it's hard to stop cultural change.
COATES: I mean, Rachel, we've all heard this phrase, just for success or dress for where you want to be, right? Then there's a tension of, of course, they were elected for being perhaps authentic, hopefully. When you look at these issues and think about what it really means, does it have an impact on one's job performance or is it just a matter of personal expression?
RACHEL JANFAZA, JOURNALIST, FOUNDER OF THE UP AND UP: Well, I think when you're talking about younger elected officials in particular, there you hit the nail on the head, it is all about authenticity. And they want to be showing up as themselves wearing clothes that represent who they are.
And in many cases, whether it's at the state legislature level or in city councils or for the singular Gen Z member of Congress, Representative Maxwell Frost, they have been able to sort of color within the lines, bringing their own flair and personality to the way that they're dressing, adhering to those dress codes.
So, I think, you know, we've seen from these younger elected officials that they are able to dress authentically and appear as themselves even while adhering to these dress codes, and yet there is, you know, they're always going to be pushing the needle on changing up the status quo as well.
COATES: And there is a bit of condescension, right, when you hear those who have been in office for a long time who look down the nose at your tenure if you haven't been serving very long, and this is just one other aspect of it.
But Deidre, the Senate floor, it's a place of honor and tradition, we are all told, and, of course, they don't always adhere to that in their conversation. But is there value in suiting up and sort of dressing the part of what people expect?
CLEMENTE: I certainly think that there's a time and place for that and that's within each organization to decide for themselves. I think that's what's happening right now, is that we're seeing really a pushback on the old way of doing business, which is, you know, these kinds of standards, sartorial standards put into place to hold in old ideas of race, class, and gender. And what's happening is a challenging of that. You're seeing this in live action. You're seeing cultural change in live action.
COATES: You really are looking at, and you mentioned as well, Rachel, the idea of people who are the, you know, younger members of our society and being elected as themselves. And, of course, what we think of is who ought to be in office and who not. Maybe it's a time for us to reflect on that.
Rachel Janfaza, Deirdre Clemente, thank you both so much.
JANFAZA: Thank you.
CLEMENTE: Thank you.
COATES: Now, look, like you, I've heard all this foolishness about a Senate dress code. I know that it's a thing. We just talked about it. But honestly, I really can't help but wonder how many of you really even care about all this. Because it feels like a distraction from the much bigger issues at hand.
We are actually days away from a government shutdown. There's an impeachment inquiry against a sitting president. There's a massive immigration issue along the border. A speaker of the House whose grip on power feels, well, illusory. You've got gun violence that's still rampant. You've got, of course, the economy, stupid. And did I mention a four-time indicted former president who is 412 days away from having his name on the general election ballot?
Now, all of that is somehow subordinate to what they wear on the floor. Now, I'm all for decorum. I get you want to see people who might look the part. But I care far more about what's happening in the periphery when they dangle a shiny wardrobe object in front of me and tell you not to look in the wings.
People, we've been here before, right? Remember when everyone was clutching their pearls over President Obama wearing a tan suit? Remember what he was talking about? Remember when people couldn't believe a freshman New York representative wore red lipstick and hoop earrings? Remember what she was talking about?
Remember when Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene wore the fur coat or Kirsten Sinema a colorful dress or Congressman Jim Jordan has rolled up sleeves and no jacket or a vice president in her converse? Do you remember what they were all actually talking about while the pearl clutching commenced?
I'll actually give you a hint. It was all important. It doesn't matter if you actually agreed with what the content was or not. They were talking about sexual assault. They were talking about abortion. It was about mental health. It was about democracy. It was about justice. It was about voting rights. It was about war. It was about climate. It was about freedom. It was about your future. And I mean all of ours. But maybe you don't really care, do you?
Would you want to put yourself in the running for the first human trials of a brain implant from one of Elon Musk's companies?
Well, look, turns out you can, everyone, if you fit the criteria. That's next.
COATES: Now, before we leave you tonight, I want you to think about this: Brain implants from Elon Musk. His controversial biotech startup, Neuralink, is set to begin offering brain implants to paralysis patients after receiving approval from an independent review board.
Now, trial patients will have a chip surgically placed in the part of the brain that controls the intention to move. The company says in order to -- quote -- "grant people the ability to control a computer cursor or keyboard using their thoughts alone."
Now, Musk's company faced scrutiny after a monkey died in testing for a project back in 2022. But look out for this story. Thanks for watching, everyone. Our coverage continues.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN HOST: Tonight on "360," fallout from what became the first confrontation of the Biden impeachment probe and the question that follows, did the House republican clash with Attorney General Merrick Garland do anything at all to help them make their case?
Also, tonight, stunning sexual misconduct allegation from the White House aide who saw so much on January 6 against one of the central figures of that day, Rudy Giuliani.